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The Gun Culture Has Changed, Professor Messner

I love me a good tale about gun owners and their psychology, especially those tales which are woven by lofty academics who pretty clearly haven’t been outside of the Ivory Tower for a while. Over at the HuffPo, there’s no clearer example of some of the nonsense of this type. I invite you, dear readers, to go look at part one and part two, of the HuffPo interview with Professor Michael Messner, author of King of the Wild Suburb: A Memoir of Fathers, Sons and Guns. Let me share with you some excerpts from the interview, and discuss why I think his thinking is antiquated, and most decidedly out of touch with the gun culture of today:

You write movingly that “those hunting trips with Dad and Gramps were actually about fathers and sons finding a way to love each other. These outings were not so much about hunting for deer: they were about hunting for each other.” You have two sons who are now young adults. Because you gave up hunting before they were born, you never had that as a catalyst to connect with them. Is that a continuing source of sadness? Did you find other less violent ways to bond with them that will stick with them throughout their lives, as your experiences hunting with your father and grandfather have stayed with you?

What exactly is flawed about men bonding through activity? Men and women are somewhat different, I think, in how they form friendships. Men tend to bond with each other more through activity, and I think this is not really different for father and sons. He speaks of this type of bonding as if it were a bad thing, but that strikes me as rather narrow minded.

Part of the tension–and this is really only possible to see in retrospect–is that this 1950s identification with Davy Crockett was very much a pre-civil rights era celebration of white masculinity, and the violent subjugation of the continent from Native peoples, and eventually of the Southwest from Mexico. Still today, in a good deal of popular culture as well as in political debates about gun violence, we tend to think of white guys with guns as protectors and heroes, while reacting with fear to images of black or brown men with guns.

The Professor is making connections that I think only exist in his mind. You can embrace masculinity without racism or sexism. Because some of the people who embraced masculinity in the past, also happened to be racist and sexist, does not mean the two need to be forever connected. This strikes me as incredibly weak thinking for an academic. It also just amazes me we can’t have a discussion about gun ownership with people on the left without bringing up the whole “scared of brown people” motivation for gun ownership.

Well, I guess I’d be surprised to hear that sort of politicized passion about something like hunting coming from a young guy today. However I am happy to see so many young men today — including my sons Sasha and Miles — for whom ideas like equality with women, gay and lesbian people are taken for granted.

Professor Messner is a man living in the past. He’s had his thinking tainted by the left-wing baby boomer culture that focuses heavily on gender, and rejects a flawed conception of masculinity that is entirely of their own making. Would it surprise Messner that “equality with women, gay and lesbian people are taken for granted,” even among many gun owners and hunters today? Would it be such a shock to discover we’ve changed along with the rest of society?

Women are now the fastest growing demographic of gun owners. Most of us have not only been tolerant of this trend, but outright embraced the ideas of women being involved in our sports. Younger men want to share their hobbies with their wives. And why not hunting and shooting as a hobby for a couple to share? Many of us have also either been completely tolerant of gay gun rights groups, or have outright embraced their coming to our cause. I also think I’ve been a vocal advocate for legalizing gay marriage. Does it mean anything that I can announce this on a blog about gun rights without worrying about losing readers?

Get out of the past Professor Messner. We’ve come a long long way since the gun culture of your father and grandfather. The hunting and shooting culture has changed into something more tolerant and inclusive. I would invite Professor Messner to step out of the Ivory Tower of academia for a bit, an attend something like an Steel Challenge or USPSA national competition, and then talk to some of the women shooters about how they view their relationship with firearms, hunting, and shooting through the lens of their gender. Sure, you’ll give them a little chuckle about such a blast-from-the-past question, but some of their answers might just surprise you.

17 Responses to “The Gun Culture Has Changed, Professor Messner”

  1. SayUncle says:

    I stopped reading at ‘sociologist’ realizing it was made up.

  2. David says:

    There is a reason that some people hide out in the fantasy land of academia. They get to share wild misconceptions of the world while hiding from the reality that exists off campus. Academia consists of paper experts who do nothing, and no skills or experience beyond reading and writing.

    The best teachers are not the ones with the most degrees. The best teachers are the ones with passion, real world experience, and the ability to share.

  3. Sigivald says:

    Because some of the people who embraced masculinity in the past, also happened to be racist and sexist, does not mean the two need to be forever connected. This strikes me as incredibly weak thinking for an academic.

    It is incredibly weak thinking, but it’s been my experience that academics really aren’t any better at thinking than non-academics.

    Which wouldn’t be much of a problem, except for the posturing at being Professional Thinkers With Authority.

    (Some academics, of course, are brilliant thinkers – but I see no particular evidence that the proportion is higher than in the general population.)

  4. Wes says:

    I don’t know what the Professor is talking about, I went hunting as a kid to kill things and get food for the table! I still hunt because I want the solitude of nature..and to kill things to put food on the table.

    As far as my wife and I, we go to the shooting range together. She’s gone from a woman scared of guns to a better shot than I am with a pistol at all calibres.

  5. Maria says:

    As those damned whippersnappers say these days, “Dude needs to get out more.”

    I’m in my late twenties. Last year I finally took a gun safety class because I wanted 1) to get over my irrational fear of an object and 2) to know how to handle and use it safely if need be.

    The gun range and shop at which the class was offered quickly surprised me. I had been picturing a place which i now realize was a media stereotype. The really young, pierced girl and the Asian dude behind the counter were the first two people I saw. Then as I signed in, I noticed the people milling about the store, young, old, white, black, latino, asian and 1/3 were women.

    Hell, half the class itself was women and all of us, except for one, were their on their own to learn for themselves. As in, they hadn’t come with a boyfriend/husband. The ex-marine teaching the class told us that for the past 6 years, that has been the trend for almost ALL of his weekend classes. Either half or mostly women. He said that he LOVES it.

  6. ecurb says:

    As a male gun owner and bigot, I was of course shocked and horrified when I discovered my boyfriend was Gay.
    Or, you know… not.

    He has a point about the gun culture of thirty years ago, though. Some of the things those old fudds say makes me want to keep them away from the new folks, and not get too close myself.

  7. “This strikes me as incredibly weak thinking for an academic.”

    What color is the sky in your world, Sebastian? On the world with the blue sky, “academics” are not required to actually think. They just regurgutate their biases and bigotry to a captive audience. They have no interest in “thinking” if you define thinking as objectively weighing data and coming to conclusions. They simply wwant to propagandize.

  8. Archer says:

    “It also just amazes me we can’t have a discussion about gun ownership with people on the left without bringing up the whole “scared of brown people” motivation for gun ownership.”

    Funny. Isn’t the whole “scared of brown people” thing the original motivation for gun control?

    Oh, right. The “Omniscient Academics,” those supernaturally wise beings, forgot to account for that little “inconvenient truth,” so it was easier to disregard it. If the data doesn’t fit the model, it’s obviously because the data is wrong.

    Kinda invalidates their entire argument though, doesn’t it?

  9. Patrick says:

    Ironically, it is now the anti-rights crowd crowing about the “brown people”.

    Maryland’s Attorney General Gansler argued to a Federal Court that one of the key reasons Maryland needs to prevent lawful carry of arms in public is to keep the people of “Urban Baltimore” and Prince Georges County from having guns – because they would just start killing each other over trivial things like parking.

    He didn’t mention Annapolis or Briggs Chaney in his hysterics. He mentioned the two most predominantly African American communities in the state.

    Virginia has no such issue with so-called “urban” neighborhoods (progressive-speak for “minority” neighborhoods). Of course, no Shall-Issue state has a problem, because there is no problem. It exists only in the Progressive mind – they need to keep the lower class safe from themselves. It is the case that Maryland’s AG argues that certain classes of people in Maryland are more bestial than those of other jurisdictions.

    Who is using color as a motivation, now?

    How very Progressive of Gansler and his buddies.

    We recognize his brand of thinking is utter bullshit out of 1950.

  10. 4thestars says:

    I have no problem with an Academic writing such a piece. Why? Because, because in our free society we are free to debate the merits of what has been published, privately or publicly, as in this blog. It is an opportunity to exercise our critical thinking skills.
    I, too, suspect that the father-son bonding aspect was a large component up until about 30 years ago.
    But I also suspect that today’s dynamics are different, with so many more women and girls getting involved in the shooting sports.

  11. Bill Twist says:

    Sounds like he was arguing against Gun Culture 1.0, and doesn’t know about Gun Culture 2.0.

  12. Firehand says:

    Seems an awful lot of academics have, well, almost a horror of the idea of males working together on something unless it’s a PC-Approved project of some kind. Hunting, or shooting, or fixing the mower or whatever and talking, well, there’s something WRONG with that! At least in their minds.

  13. Zermoid says:

    I wonder how this pinhead would explain fathers taking their daughters hunting?

    I also bonded with my daughter going hunting as well as my son. What kind of BS can he come up with for that?

  14. Zermoid says:

    And as to Gay Gunowners, I have no problems with them owning guns, however I do have a religious based problem with the gay lifestyle. I try not to discriminate, but at the same time I cannot accept it either.

  15. “Sounds like he was arguing against Gun Culture 1.0, and doesn’t know about Gun Culture 2.0.”

    Sounds to me like he doesn’t understand Gun Culture 1.0 either

  16. alcade says:

    Even if going hunting and owning guns was specifically limited to white men, so what? Would this bubblehead have the same problem with black fathers doing some sort of stereotypical activity like playing basketball with their sons? I doubt it. The hatred of gunowners is only one facet of the cultural hatred these people have towards the majority.

  17. Glen says:

    You’ll enjoy reading Walter Russell Mead’s latest essay on the epic failure of the Boomer Progressive Establishment.

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